Ministry witnesses signing of peace deal in Terekeka

JUBA, 16 April 2011 - The Ministry of Peace and CPA Implementation, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) today witnessed the signing of a peace deal between residents of Jonglei, Lakes and Central Equatoria states at Terekeka.


The ministry was represented by its Undersecretary Beatrice Khamisa Wani who emphasized that the role of the ministry is to facilitate the realization of a peaceful country. She said that the peace building process also entails national healing and reconciliation and asserted that the ministry is committed to the entire process. The Undersecretary was received by the Commissioner of Terekeka, Clement Maring Samuel. They also toured several projects in the county including a guest house, police post and fisheries office.


In another event yesterday, the ministry received five landcruiser vehicles from the UNDP. Receiving the vehicles the Undersecretary said that they will enable the ministry to reach all parts of the country, some of which lack good roads.


The UNDP Senior Post-conflict Expert, Mr. Amanuel Gabremodhin said that the vehicles will particularly be used to enhance security in the country. He said that beefing up security is one of the major mechanisms of building peace. In the ministry to witness the donation was the Chairperson of Small Arms Commission, Daniel Deng. He said that these cars are going to contribute positively to community and boarder security.

 
Reported by Lindri Godfrey Alex

 


Hope for better governance, development and security as 2011 Equatoria Conference kicks off

JUBA, 14 April 2011 – The 2011 Equatoria Conference kicked off today at the Nyakuron Cultural Centre in Juba with the discussions revolving around how to enhance governance, development and security in the region. Under the theme, “Justice, unity and prosperity”, the three-day conference has drawn participants from Eastern, Western and Central Equatoria.


Opening the conference, H.E. Tellar Ring Deng, the Presidential Advisor for Legal Affairs, emphasized that these three issues – governance, development and security – are critical to South Sudan especially now as it prepares for full independence. He urged the leaders and participants to internalize the ideals of the theme. He called on all the citizens to forge unity and direct all their efforts to nation building.

 


A cross-section of the participants at the conference.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


In his address, H.E. Clement Wani Konga, the Governor, Central Equatoria urged the participants to join efforts and deal conclusively with pressing challenges such as impunity, corruption, professional misconduct, nepotism, mistrust, cattle rustling and child abduction. He also urged the citizens to respect elected leaders and support them during their tenure. “Let us stop divisive behaviour and support each other in our diversity”, he urged.


On the issue of the new capital, H.E. Wani said that consultations are ongoing. He expressed confidence that an amicable resolution will be reached at the opportune time. He said that the people and leaders of Central Equatoria are willing to accommodate the needs of the country for a capital that befits it.

 


H.E. Lojore waves to the participants when he addressed the conference.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


On his part, H.E. Louis Lobong Lojore, the Governor, Eastern Equatoria said that the factor that most divides people is the scramble for power. He explained that people who are hungry for power are ready to do anything to get it even if it means betraying their own people. He said that people should not demand for leadership based on the size of the population of their communities, education or perceived level of civilization. He said such attitudes are wrong. “Power is in the hands of the people; not in Khartoum or Juba”, he asserted.


H.E. Joseph Bakasoro, the Governor, Western Equatoria urged leaders not to seek self-interest but to use their positions to uplift the lives of the citizens. He also appealed to the international development partners to prioritize the rural areas in their project allocations. He also called on government institutions to share the national resources equitably to all regions of the country.


Reported by Barnaba Mabor Mayom

 


Southern Sudan participates in high level conference in Ethiopia

JUBA, 14 April 2011 - Southern Sudan participated in a high level conference on employment, peace, stability and development in the Hon of Africa. The conference aimed at addressing issues of employment, peace, stability, eradication of poverty, education and health. This was reported by the minister for Labour and Public Service in the Government of Southern Sudan, H.E. Awut Deng Acuil when she addressed journalists shortly after arriving from Ethiopia where the conference was held.

 

“It is the first time for Southern Sudan to be part of this big conference that drew together African countries and will come up with a framework of how best to address the common issues within the continent,” Madam Awut Deng said.

 

She also said that the conference also discussed the Millennium Development Goals seeking to ensure social protection, provision of health and education services, and poverty eradication.

 

During the conference, issues of Southern Sudan in regards to the emerging nation were raised especially the ones relating to integration of the Internally Displaced People, DDR programme and support from the African countries to help build the new nation.

 

Madam Awut Deng also pointed out that gender and youth issues in terms of employment were discussed with great concern. She concluded that Southern Sudan is keen to join international organisations including the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

 

The Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan also attended the conference.

 

Reported by Justin Jada Joseph


Fly540 to fly Nairobi-Juba route from May

NAIROBI, 12 April 2011 (Business Daily) - Regional carrier Fly540 will fly from Nairobi to Juba starting next month. The airline said it is starting the service on May 2 with six flights per week at a return ticket of $400 — signalling intention to wage a price war as its rates are slightly lower than those of Kenyan national carrier Kenya Airways (KQ).


“We should start on the route with $199 for a one-way ticket and double the amount for a return. We expect to start with between 40 and 50 per cent capacity,” said Mr Nixon Ooko, the Fly540 operations director.


The move comes after it formed a partnership with rival East African Safari Air Express—giving it access to planes and staff. “Entrepreneurs and investors are turning to the Southern Sudan and there are growing trade links with Kenya which are driving demand for more flights between Nairobi and Juba,” said Mr Ooko.


Data from airlines indicate that passenger traffic between Nairobi and Juba has grown to more than 8,000 from a monthly average of 5,800 passengers. The entry of Fly540 on the route mainly served by Kenya Airways since June last year and Jetlink is expected to increase pressure on the route that could result into a price war as happened on the Tanzanian routes. The route has one of the highest margin as return ticket costs more than $500, which is higher than Entebbe ($280) and Dar es Salaam ($420).


Fly540 plans to introduce daily flights on the route using its 50 seater twin jet. “Although we are launching this route with six services each week, we anticipate a daily schedule in the near future.” This comes at a time airlines are grappling with rising jet fuel amid cut-throat competition on the domestic market that has seen them cut fares to defend market share.


Unlike KQ the other players are mainly point-to-point carriers, giving the national airline the advantage of connecting passengers from other destinations through Nairobi. This has made it crucial for smaller airlines to seek fresh routes in the region to increase sales.


By PAUL WAFULA, Business Daily


Audit Chamber focusing on institutional development

JUBA, 12 April 2011 – The Southern Sudan Audit Chamber (SSAC) is currently focusing on institutional development to enhance its capacity to deliver its mandate to the people of Southern Sudan.


Addressing journalists today at the weekly media forum hosted by the GOSS Ministry of Information, the Auditor General, H.E. Stephen Kiliona Wondu explained that even though the institution was created in 2005 by Section 195 of the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan (ICSS), it has faced several challenges. He explained that the entire chamber was dismissed by the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) in 2008 and a sustentative Auditor General was only appointed in February 2010.


He explained that due to these challenges and the fact that previous auditing services were centralized and conducted from Khartoum, the chamber currently has a huge backlog. He also explained that the chamber faces an acute shortage of qualified auditors. He reported that the chamber recently recruited thirty new auditors. However, he explained that the new recruits lacked adequate technical, English language and IT skills. Consequently, he said, the chamber is currently conducting a five-month training for the recruits.


The Auditor General also appealed to all qualified Southern Sudanese auditors in the Diaspora to consider returning home to build their country by joining the chamber. He also reported that he has asked the Auditor General in Khartoum to help the chamber trace and absorb all Southern Sudanese who previously worked at the capital.

 


H.E. Wondu (right) and Mr. George Garang (left), Undersecretary, GOSS Ministry of Information share a light moment during the media forum.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


He appreciated the political and material support he, and the chamber, has received from President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the SSLA and other institutions. He explained that this support has enabled the chamber to construct a new office building and accomplish other projects.


He also appealed to heads of institutions to nurture the culture of oversight in their organizations. He said that every officer must be accountable for all the resources entrusted to them by the people and Government of Southern Sudan. He emphasized that all institutions under the ambit of the chamber have no discretion on whether to cooperate with the chamber or not. He asserted that this is a constitutional requirement which they have no option but to comply with.


H.E. Wondu clarified that there is no special linkage between the chamber and the Southern Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission. He explained that the two bodies are independent. He said, however, that the anti-corruption body can use the chamber’s reports in its work. He emphasized that the two institutions complement each other.


Admitting that the chamber has no powers to arrest or prosecute, he urged the public institutions, especially the Public Accounts Committee of the SSLA, to take the audit reports seriously. Nonetheless, he asserted that under him, the chamber will do all that it takes to deliver its mandate without fear or favour.
 


Presidential Decree No. 19/2011

JUBA, 12 April 2011 - Please, click here to download Presidential Decree No. 19/2011 for the relief of Dr. Salwa Gabriel Berberi as Undersecretary in the GOSS Ministry of Regional Cooperation.


Audit reports of 2005 and 2006 financial years ready

JUBA, 12 April 2011 – The audited financial reports of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) operations during the 2005 and 2006 fiscal years are now complete and will be released in due course, the Auditor General, H.E. Stephen Kiliona Wondu announced today.


H.E. Wondu also announced that the Southern Sudan Audit Chamber is currently working on the reports for 2007 and 2008 financial years which he estimated would be released by June this year. He said that the chamber will begin working on the other financial years thereafter. He expressed confidence that the chamber will complete the backlog by “the second celebration of independence of South Sudan” in 2012.


The Auditor General could not delve on the contents of the reports citing procedural requirements. He said the chamber will release the reports to the public once they have gone through the requisite processes.


He said that the Audit Chamber, established in 2005, was the first institution of its kind in Southern Sudan. He explained that all the previous governments including the semi-autonomous ones before the CPA had been relying on auditors from Khartoum. He explained that the mandate of the chamber is to audit and supervise government institutions and agencies including ministries, commissions, legislative assemblies, Bank of Southern Sudan and the universities.


H.E. Wondu also clarified that the mandate of the chamber covers all levels of governance in Southern Sudan encompassing GOSS, States, and Counties. He reported that he has already written to the governors of all the states and will be sending auditors to them in due course.
The Auditor General made these remarks this morning when he addressed the weekly media forum hosted by the GOSS Ministry of Information in Juba. The forum was chaired by Mr. George Garang, the Undersecretary, Ministry of Information. It was attended by journalists from both local and international media institutions.

 


Lakes and Western Equatoria governors work out a formula for peace

JUBA, 11 April 2011 – H.E. Chol Tong Mayay, the governor of Lakes State and H.E. Joseph Bangasi Bakasoro, the governor of Western Equatoria announced today that they worked out a formula to resolve the conflict between the two counties of Yirol West (Lakes) and Mabolo (West Equatoria).


Addressing a joint press conference today at the Ministry of Information, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) headquarters in Juba, the governors announced that they had just concluded a consultative meeting on the issue in which the following resolutions were made:

 

  1. Immediate cessation of hostility between the two communities;
  2. Return of the displaced people to their original homes;
  3. Immediate deployment of the SPLA forces to create a buffer zone;
  4. Urge humanitarian agencies to provide food, shelter, seed and other non-food items for three month period; and
  5. Implementation of the resolutions.


The two governors jointly urged the government to form a high level delegation for the implementation of the resolutions. They said they came to Juba in order to attend the government security meeting and they presented these resolutions in the meeting and fortunately they were passed and the high level committee composed of the ministers for SPLA and Veterans Affairs, Internal Affairs plus three other members of the delegation to go and assess the situation for the implementation of the resolutions. They said that police will be immediately dispatched for the deployment in the area. In the meeting was also suggested that peace conference should be conducted to bring peace and harmony in the two communities.

 


H.E. Bakasoro (left) and H.E. Chol (centre) chat with Mr. George Garang, the Undersecretary, Ministry of Information.
[Photo: Ajang Monychol]


The two governors regretted the death of 60 people without good cause at this important time when the people of Southern Sudan are about to celebrate their independence in July this year. They advised the two communities to encourage the spirit of peace among their communities. H.E Bakasoro said they had a meeting at Mabolo before they reached the final conclusion at Mapourdit. They said the meeting at Mapourdit was also attended by UNIMIS. H.E Bakasoro appreciated H.E. Chol for his willingness to coordinate ways to peaceful settlement of the problems. He said that the two commissioners should adopt the same spirit to coordinate peace between their communities. He advised the politicians to desist from inciting communities but instead encourage the spirit of dialogue to build peace in the two communities. The two governors urged humanitarian agencies to come and assess the humanitarian situation in the two affected counties.


H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Banjamin, the GOSS minister for Information who is also the official government spokesman said he is happy to see the two governors addressing the media about the positive development to bring peace into the two communities.


The press conference was attended by journalists from the government and the independent media houses.


Reported by Joseph Garang Deng


President Kiir meets NISS deputy director general

JUBA, 9 April 2011 - The First Vice President of the Republic and President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit has met today in his office at GoSS General Secretariat in Juba with the Deputy Director General of the National Intelligence and Security Services, Dr. Majak D’Agoot.

 

The meeting explored the progress made on the establishment of a new National Security Agency for the Republic of Southern Sudan. Besides that the meeting discussed disengagement process between the Northern and Southern components of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) of the Sudan, and New National Security Act.

 


President Kiir (right) meets Dr. Majak D’Agoot (left)


President Kiir also met today with representatives of the Greater Bor Community composed of Bor and Twic East Counties led by Mr. Gabriel Alaak Garang. Mr. Garang told the Press after the meeting that the delegation purposely came to congratulate H.E Kiir for having steered the people of southern Sudan in the last six years to peace and unity. He pointed out that they discussed during the meeting issues connected with the challenges of the new Republic of South Sudan. Mr. Garang added that Greater Bor Community stands behind H.E Kiir in resolving issues of security, unity of the people of southern Sudan, corruption fighting and Economic development.

 

Reported by Thomas Kenneth

 


President Bashir refutes any link with Ugandan LRA rebels

JUBA, 8 April 2011 (SUNA) - President Omar al-Bashir said Sudan has no link whatsoever with the Ugandan Lord Resistance Army (LRA), stressing that any such presumed relationship was nothing but hostility and enmity, indicating that his government was in a state of war with LRA before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.


President Bashir said in an interview with the Southern Sudan TV yesterday in Juba, on sideline of the presidential meeting that any claims of existence of a relationship between Khartoum and the LRA were mere allegations.


He wondered as to how the Sudanese government would provide the support from Khartoum to the LRA which is based in the north and the east of Congo and Western Equatoria, adding that this was impossible to carry out by the logic of the distances and the countries separating Sudan from those areas.


He pointed out about projects implemented by the Sudan government in the south and the possibility of its continuity after the secession of the south, noting that the government had signed the contract for the implementation of the peace road to cross the Sobat River, indicating that the remaining distance from Sobat to Juba need funding and that the Sudan government would not be able to provide it, due to the burden of external debt problem and the economic sanctions imposed by the international financial institutions.
 


Presidents Bashir and Kiir agree on Abyei security

JUBA, 8 April 2011 (SUNA) - The President of the Republic, Omar al-Bashir and the First Vice-President of the Republic, President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, agreed to implement an agreement reached by the two sides with regard to the security situation in Abyei beginning today.


The Chairman of the African Union High-level Committee assigned to follow up the implementation of the comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), Thabo Mbeki told reporters following the Presidential meeting which was held at the Presidential Palace in Juba yesterday that the meeting was briefed on the efforts exerted by the committee, especially, with regard to the outcomes of the Addis Ababa talks between the two partners on the security issues, adding that the meetings will continue between the two sides, April 9-11.


Mr. Mbeki described the meetings as good and useful. He said President al-Bashir and Salva Kiir agreed on the work program of Addis Ababa talks concerning the security, economic and debt issues. He revealed that a meeting of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the donors will be held in Washington on April 15 with the participation of the delegations of Sudan government and the South Sudan government to discuss Sudan's foreign debts and the economic issues between the north and the south.


Mr. Mbeki said the committee assigned to follow up the implementation of Kadugli Agreement on Abyei meets on Thursday to review viewpoints and proposals of the two partners concerning security situation in Abyei and the completion of the peace process in accordance with the agreement.
 


Sports minister establishes provisional football association

JUBA, 8 April 2011 – The minister for Youth, Sports and Recreation, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), Brig. Gen. Makuac Teny Youk, has issued a ministerial order establishing the South Sudan Provisional Football Association.


The association will be in office for one year and will manage, promote and supervise football affairs in South Sudan. It will be led by Hon. Oliver Mori Benjamin as President, Doub Foj Jok as Vice President, Rudolf Andera Oujika as Secretary General, and Jaden Jada Solomon as the Treasurer. It has a total of 17 members.


It will also review existing basic rules and general regulations for the game as well as pursue the inclusion of South Sudan in the regional and international football federations such as CECAFA, CAF and FIFA. It will also work on establishing a national football team for South Sudan and organize state football associations.


The minister explained that the association has been established in accordance with the need to realize development of sports for the benefit of the people of South Sudan and especially the football sporting potential of the people and to empower the youth for education, employment, health, recreation, participation in governance and sustainable development of the new country.
 


Ministry of Education launches national statistical booklet 2010

JUBA, 7 April 2011 – The Ministry of Education, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) today launched the National Statistical Booklet containing statistics on various facets of education in Southern Sudan. The statistics are part of the reports output from the Education Management Information System (EMIS) inaugurated in 2006.


In his opening remarks during the launch of the booklet at the Juba Bridge Hotel this morning, the minister for Education, H.E. Dr. Michael Milli Hussein, underscored the importance of up-to-date statistics in planning, budgeting and implementation of relevant education systems in Southern Sudan.


He commended the good work done by the Department of Statistics in the ministry which coordinates the data collection, collation and analysis in spite of myriad challenges in accessing some areas given that Southern Sudan is a vast country but with limited infrastructure. It is this data, he said, which is used to generate this report. He emphasized that similar reports will be published yearly beginning 2011.

 


Dr. Hussein stresses a point to Dr. Haque of UNICEF during the statistical booklet launch.
[Photo: Emmanuel Gai Maker]


Dr. Hussein also explained that getting statistics on education in Southern Sudan is a major challenge due to lack of baseline information; language barrier; and lack of records in most schools, among other factors. He announced that the ministry has launched a universal school register to be used all over the country. He said that the universal register will capture data on admissions as well as class (students) and teachers’ attendance.


The minister also announced that EMIS will be decentralized in all the states. He said that requisite capacity building will be undertaken to enable education officers in the states to collect and collate data on state education issues efficiently.


Dr. Hussein also pointed out that issues relating to alternative education systems and over-age students should be investigated further in greater depth. He explained that over-age students are likely to bully the younger ones and may cause school-dropout. He suggested that such learners should be advised to join the alternative education programmes instead.


He also announced that the booklet will be disseminated widely. He said that copies will be given to all ministers, states as well as the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA). He said this would enable the policy makers to understand the status of education in the country as well as monitor its activities to facilitate rapid development of the sector. He also thanked all the development partners in the sector, especially UNICEF, for their continued support to uplift the standards of education in Southern Sudan.


In her remarks, the UNICEF Director for Southern Sudan, Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque said that the statistical booklet is a major blueprint for the educational sector. She said that it gives in-depth information which is not available from other sources. For instance, she explained that even though it is commonly known that about 1.6 million children are in school in Southern Sudan, most sources are silent about the fact that about 2million children are still out of school. She also said that the booklet gives information on the status of sanitation in schools, which she asserted, has a bearing on school attendance especially among the girls.


Dr. Haque also explained that the statistics indicate that more children are now getting admitted into pre-primary school programmes. She said that this is an important indicator which shows that the consequences of war are slowly fading and that life in Southern Sudan is normalizing.


Reported by Emmanuel Gai Maker


“We must have the right people in the right jobs”, asserts minister for Public Service

JUBA, 6 April 2011 – H.E. Awut Deng Acuil, the minister for Labour and Public Service, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), today asserted that the government is committed to ensuring that only qualified people hold various positions in the public service.


Madam Awut made these remarks this morning after presenting a report of structure and establishment audit of the GOSS Ministry of Education to the minister, H.E. Dr. Michael Milli Hussein. The audit had been undertaken by a committee appointed by the Ministry of Labour and Public Service two months ago.


She said that the audit has revealed several anomalies relating to appointments and recruitment in the ministry. She clarified that the exercise was not a witch hunt targeting any people but a genuine effort to address irregularities in the civil service.


“We made mistakes in the past but we must now make things right, correct those mistakes and build an efficient workforce capable to deliver outstanding services to the people of South Sudan especially as we become independent”, she said.

 


H.E. Dr. Hussein addresses the press after receiving the audit report.
[Photo: Emmanuel Gai Maker]


On his part, H.E. Dr. Hussein lauded the exercise and pledged that the irregularities which have been identified will be corrected promptly. He said that he will table the report as well as the proposed remedial measures before the Council of Ministers for direction. He emphasized that getting the right structures and persons in the ministry is critical now given the pivotal role of education in the development and stability of the new country.


Dr. Julia Duany, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, who chaired the auditing committee said that some of the anomalies unearthed include missing documents (such as certificates) in employee files; missing information on employees; retention of over-age workers who should have retired in the workforce; and lack of communication systems for the coordination between the ministry and the national institutions of education such as national schools and teachers’ training colleges attached to it.


Both ministers commended the audit committee for completing the exercise promptly. They also appreciated the cooperation and support of the undersecretaries of the ministries of Education, and Labour and Public Service.


Reported by Gisma Shaban Suleiman

 


SPLM is committed to a lean efficient government

JUBA, 6 April 2011 – The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) is committed to keep a lean but efficient government, the minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), H.E. John Luk Jok, said yesterday.


H.E. Jok admitted that the number of constitutional post-holders is currently high and is unsustainable in the long run. He explained that the socio-economic and political scenario in Southern Sudan has necessitated the need for a larger government to accommodate the various interest groups both at the GOSS and states levels. He said that the situation will get worse with the need to absorb Southerners who are working in the national government, including the members of the national assembly. He expressed hope that the situation will normalize soon.


He also said that the situation has been exacerbated by the fact that there is a small private sector in Southern Sudan leaving the government as the sole employer. He said that the government is stimulating the private sector by attracting foreign investors and other strategies to boost the sector and create job opportunities to ease the burden from the government. He also appealed to the people, especially the youth, to consider self-employment. He appealed to them not to be pre-occupied with white collar jobs in the government only.


He also appealed to the returnees from the Diasporas and the North to join the rest of the society and develop all sectors of the economy. Particularly, he emphasized the agricultural sector which, he said, has the potential of earning huge revenues for the country besides ensuring food security and keeping the cost of living low.


The minister made these remarks yesterday when he addressed journalists during the weekly media forum hosted by the GOSS Ministry of Information in Juba. He was accompanied at the forum by his host, H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin.
 


Transitional constitution will be ready by independence date

JUBA, 5 April 2011 – A transitional constitution will be ready by the time South Sudan declares independence formally in July 2011, the chairperson of the interim constitution review technical committee, H.E. John Luk Jok, has said.


H.E. Jok who is also the minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development in the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) said that the committee is currently polishing “Draft Zero” of the transitional constitution and will submit a final draft to the President for further deliberation and onward submission to the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly for enactment in a couple of weeks.


The chairperson clarified that the technical committee is not developing a new constitution as such but is only amending the current interim constitution, which was for an autonomous region within a united Sudan, to meet the requirements of an independent state of South Sudan. He also explained that the committee will also make provisions to fill gaps which may emerge following the amendments of the sections of the interim constitution referring to the national constitution.

 


H.E. Jok (left) addresses the media accompanied by Dr. Marial (right).
[Photo: Matata safi]


H.E. Jok explained that the technical committee will also propose a roadmap for the development of a permanent constitution for South Sudan. He said that the process will be more elaborate and will involve all sectors of the South Sudanese society. He allayed the fears of some sections of the society which are feeling left out that this stage of constitutional review is not bringing anything new but just customizing the current constitution to meet the needs of a sovereign state. He urged the public not to be alarmed because nothing new is being introduced into the constitution at this stage.


On representation at the committee, he said that this phase was a technical one which was only meant to adapt the current constitution for the new state. However, he reported that the President has listened to the concerns of political parties and other sections of the society and has expanded the committee accordingly to accommodate their interests.


H.E. Jok also refuted claims in some sections of the press that the SPLM has changed the procedures of the business of the committee. He explained that the committee seeks to make decisions through consensus and only votes where it is not possible. Nonetheless, he explained that even when the view of the majority carries the day, the view of the minority is also included in the report. He asserted that no principles of procedure have been changed as alleged.

 


A bird's eye view of the media forum.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


He also refuted claims that the SPLM party members of the committee came with a pre-determined mindset. He stated that the party did not submit any draft before the committee but only highlighted sections of the current constitution that need to be addressed given their implications for the operations of the independent South Sudan come July 2011.


He also reported that the committee is hard-pressed with time constraints and is now working around the clock to complete the process in time. He admitted that constitution-making is a delicate and complex process. He also asserted that there is no universal best-practice of constitution-making because constitutions are contextual documents which address needs of specific communities. He explained that it is the people of South Sudan who will finally determine what their permanent constitution will be (presidential, parliamentary, monarchical or hybrid system) and how it will be developed. He also said that it is not possible to get perfect unanimity on any constitutional issues. Divergent opinions need to be harmonized in a spirit of compromise for the sake of the country. He appealed to all leaders to join hands and give the country a constitution before its birthday.

 


Current government and parliament to serve its full tenure

JUBA, 5 April 2011 – H.E. John Luk Jok, the minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), in his capacity as the chairperson of the Technical Committee reviewing the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan (ICSS) today announced that the current government and parliament will serve its full tenure of five years unless a constitutional assembly or referendum passes a permanent constitution before the end of the period.


H.E. Jok also announced that the members of the national assembly in Khartoum will be absorbed in the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) where they will also serve the remainder of their tenure. He also reported that a Council of States will also be created in the SSLA.


The minister explained that the April 2010 elections were conducted with the understanding that Southern Sudanese may choose either unity or independence at the referendum. Consequently, he explained, that cutting short the five-year tenure of the incumbents is not justifiable legally or morally unless a new permanent constitutional dispensation comes before the expiry of the term.


H.E. Jok also said that other civil servants from Southern Sudan who are currently working in the national government will also be absorbed by the government of the new independent state of South Sudan.


The minister made these remarks this morning when he addressed members of the Fourth Estate at the weekly media forum hosted by the GOSS Ministry of Information. He was accompanied by his host, H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, at the forum which was attended by journalists from both local and international media institutions.
 


Information minister assures media freedom

JUBA, 5 April 2011 – H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the minister for Information, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) today reiterated the commitment of the government to media freedom. He clarified, however, that the freedom must be exercised with responsibility.


The minister was responding to a question by journalists at the weekly media forum on the alleged confiscation of the Juba Post newspapers last week. He explained that that he has consulted with the relevant security organs and has been informed that the said issue of the newspaper contained an article “agitating for war”. He explained that such an article would not be allowed to be published because the consequences on national security would be grave. He cited the case of Rwanda where irresponsible media fanned mayhem and asserted that the government cannot allow South Sudan to experience a similar situation.


Dr. Marial also emphasized that the government has not changed its policy on media freedom. He also reported that consultations are still ongoing between the ministry, security agents and the newspaper on the way forward on the issue.


The minister also appealed to the media to avoid divisive or sensational themes which do not serve the interests of the citizens and the country. He urged journalists to concentrate on developmental issues especially at this time when the country stands on the verge of statehood.


On his part, the minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, H.E. John Luk Jok, cautioned the media sternly against irresponsible journalism. He said that the media should enjoy the right of expression within the confines of the constitution and the penal code. He warned that any infringement on the law in the name of freedom of expression is actionable and will be punished accordingly. He also advised editors to review opinion articles and ensure that they meet the relevant legal requirements before being published.
 


GOSS prioritizes alternative education

JUBA, 5 April 2011 – The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) is prioritizing alternative education to give citizens who missed a chance to go to school due to the consequences of the war an opportunity to do so even in adulthood.


This was revealed this morning by the minister for Education, H.E. Dr. Michael Milli Hussein after a meeting of the Oversight Committee of the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) at the World Bank office in Juba where he had presented a report on the Education Rehabilitation Programme (ERP) which is funded by the MDTF and implemented by the ministry.


Dr. Hussein said that he had presented the achievements of the ERP and the challenges it is facing. He identified management as one of the major challenges the programme faces. He announced that the ministry has employed a full time officer to manage the project. He also reported that the ministry has implemented an accounting system which enables it to manage the resources of the programme transparently.

 


Dr. Hussein addressing the media after the meeting.
[Photo: Emmanuel Gai Maker]


Critically, the minister said that the programme has enabled the ministry to train teachers, construct schools and, above all, provide alternative and adult education opportunities for people who missed the opportunity during the war. He appealed to the MDTF to extend the project period to enable the ministry to complete some of the projects which are still ongoing.


Dr. Christopher Kenyi, the Educational Specialist at the World Bank in Juba said that the oversight committee was impressed by the good progress the project has made in the recent past. He said that construction of 30 schools has been completed while construction of 18 schools is nearly completed under the programme. He also said that training of teachers is also progressing well. He said that, overall, the ERP is doing well.


Reported by Emmanuel Gai Maker


South Sudan celebrates International Mines Awareness Day

JUBA, 4 April 2011 – South Sudan today celebrated the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum in Juba.


4 April was set aside by the United Nations in 2005 to be observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The day is used to rally the efforts by States, with the assistance of the United Nations and relevant organizations, to foster the establishment and development of national mine-action capacities in countries where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the civilian population, or an impediment to social and economic development at the national and local levels.

 


H.E. Ben Oduho being shown some of the demining equipment by UNMAO team.
[Photo Matata Safi]


“Mine clearance prevents an indiscriminate weapon from causing harm and havoc long after conflicts have ended, while also creating jobs, transforming danger zones into productive land and setting societies on course for lasting security”, said Mr. Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General.


In Juba, the celebrations were organized by the South Sudan Demining Authority/Commission together with international and national non-governmental organizations such as UNDP, UNICEF, UNMIS and SIMAS, among others, working in this area.


H.E. Ben Oduho, the chairperson of the Southern Sudan War Disabled, Widows and Orphans Commission, who was the guest of honour at the function, lauded the gallant heroes and heroines of the Southern Sudan liberation. He emphasized that it is not possible to repay the loss and sacrifices that the people made during the struggle. He asserted, however, that the sacrifices had not been in vain because South Sudan will become a free independent country in less than four months. He emphasized that the people need to be aware of the dangers of mines so as to prevent any further loss of lives or maiming during this time of peace.

 


One of the mine-disabled teams which played during the celebrations pose for a photo before the match.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


Major General Nyang Chol Dhuor, the Acting Chairperson of the South Sudan Demining Authority/Commission, emphasized that every person is at risk of land mines. “Anti-personnel mines do not distinguish between a soldier and a child...they inflict devilish atrocities on innocent people who are not party to any of the warring sides”, he said.


Major General Nyang also explained that the problem with mines is a big challenge since some warring factions do not keep accurate records of the exact locations of their minefields making the clearance efforts difficult. Nonetheless, he said that the commission has an ambitious plan of making the would-be-born new nation mine-free. He also said that the new nation will sign appropriate treaties on the prohibition of use, stock piling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.


Madam Margaret Madhiang, the Undersecretary in the GOSS Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare emphasized that mines are a global problem wrecking havoc in diverse parts of the world, not just Africa or South Sudan. She pledged continued support for the mine victims. She also appealed to the general public to do likewise.

 


The other mine-disabled team which played during the celebrations.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


The commission reported that it has cleared 18,000km of roads and 6million square kilometres of farm land of mines. As a consequence, several roads are now open for business and other purposes. Similarly, schools, villages and farms have sprouted in the demined areas. In spite of this achievement, the commission reported that a lot of work still remains undone and appealed to all the stakeholders to keep supporting the demining efforts.


The function was also addressed by representatives from UNICEF, G4S, UNMIS (UNMAO), as well as the victims of mines. It was also treated to an entertaining soccer match between two teams of disabled mine victims.